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Who’s Qualified?

Fareed Zakaria (author of a truly fine book and columnist for the Washington Post) rightly argues that Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president of the United States (and, hence, by extension, unqualified to be V-P).  Mr. Zakaria is correct that Gov. Palin’s recent answer to a question about the economy “is nonsense – a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head.”  He’s correct also that she’s unfit to be entrusted with the power of the modern presidency.

But Mr. Zakaria is incorrect to suppose that these traits separate Gov. Palin from other candidates for high political office.  Calls by Senators McCain and Obama for cracking down on “speculators” are full of classic and wrongheaded catchphrases, as is Sen. Obama’s vocal skepticism about free trade.  Gov. Palin is merely less skilled in passing off inanities and claptrap as profundities.

More importantly, no one is or ever can be “ready” or “qualified” to exercise power of the sort that is concentrated today in Washington.  A country of 300 million persons, each with his or her own unique desires, talents, and knowledge, cannot be wisely regulated in the detail and intrusiveness demanded by the modern state.


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